CIRES’ Xinzhao Chu wins CU-Boulder provost award

Xinzhao ChuCIRES Fellow Xinzhao Chu has received a Provost's Faculty Achievement Award from the University of Colorado Boulder. Provost Russell Moore called her research on the upper atmosphere "well placed and influential." Professor Jeffrey Thayer of the Department of Aerospace Engineering, who nominated Chu, called her work “groundbreaking.”

Chu's research focuses on using innovative lidar systems to better understand Earth's atmosphere and space. Lidar – for light detection and ranging – is an advanced measurement technology that involves bouncing laser light off distant objects, even tiny particles of dust dozens of miles up in the atmosphere, to determine compositions, temperatures, velocities and variations.

In 2010, Chu and her group deployed a sophisticated lidar system in Antarctica. Thayer’s nomination cites a series of journal articles based on the unprecedented observations and measurements the team made in the next few years. For example, they found unexpectedly abundant neutral iron (Fe) atoms 100 miles high in the atmosphere, likely the dusty remains of meteors streaking into Earth’s atmosphere and the result of complex physical, chemical and electrodynamic interactions involving iron and iron ions..

In addition to her status as a CIRES fellow, Chu is an associate professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering. She will receive the Provost's award during a ceremony in Old Main Chapel October 4.  For more about Chu's research, please see